Wednesday, January 27, 2016

California students with dyslexia gain ground with new law

 By Jane Meredith Adams

"...Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1369, authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley. The new law requires schools to assess struggling readers specifically for dyslexia, the most prevalent learning disability in the U.S. and a disorder that affects as many as 80 percent of California students with learning disabilities in special education, according to Kathy Futterman, a supervisor in educational psychology and teacher education at California State University East Bay."

RSA ANIMATE: The Divided Brain

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms

New State Data Highlights Progress, Sobering High School Graduation Gaps for Large Groups of Students

"Students with disabilities. Making up approximately 13 percent of all public school students nationwide, students with disabilities graduate at a rate of 63.1 percent nationally while their general population peers graduate at a rate of 84.8 percent—a gap of more than 21 percentage points. The gap between students with disabilities and those without ranges from 4.2 percentage points in Arkansas to 54.5 percent in Mississippi."

"Students of color.  African American and Hispanic/Latino students continue to be key drivers of the increase in the national graduation rate. Still, less than 80 percent of these groups graduated in 2014 – 76.3 percent of Hispanic/Latino and 72.5 percent of Black students. While narrowing, the gap between graduating White and Hispanic/Latino students is 10.9 percentage points."

"Low-income students. Nearly half of all public school students come from low-income families. New data show that nationally 74.6 percent of low-income students graduated on time compared to 89 percent of non-low-income students—a 14.4 percentage point gap."




“Surely the most radical documentary at the Vancouver International Film Festival this year.” – Volkmar Richter, Vancouver Observer


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Data Mining Your Children


"In recent months, more than 30 public school districts from Bainbridge Island, Washington, to Broward County, Florida, have signed partnerships with a nonprofit called The organization gives schools free curricular materials and teacher training to set up computer science classes.

All it asks for in exchange: Data. Lots and lots of data."

Introduction to data mining our kids

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Deborah Leveroy: Dyslexia and Acting Coaching, Training & Research for the Performing Arts

Dyslexia and Acting 

As a Dyslexia and Acting tutor, I work at the Actors Centre, Actors Guild (supported by Equity), Arts Educational Schools and the Academy of Live & Recorded Arts (ALRA). I also see clients privately.

I work one-to-one with drama-school students and actors, and with a variety of Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Visual Stress and ADHD. 

My approach is learner-centred and multi-sensory. I work with each actor to develop an individual learning plan, based on discussion and/or the diagnostic report and needs assessment if available.

The aim is to enable the actor to recognise and develop their strengths and apply strategies to combat areas of difficulty; thereby removing barriers to learning and professional development.  Strategies are tailor-made to develop and support the working actor's skills and confidence.

Dyslexia and Acting strategies address:

  • short and long-term memory
  • line-learning
  • organisation
  • oral and written communication/presentation skills
  • audition and interview technique
  • linear vs non linear thought
  • reading and comprehension
  • text analysis
  • visual stress
  • sensory-overload
  • sight-reading
  • concentration and focus
  • spatial awareness and orientation
  • fine and gross motor skills
  • self-esteem and confidence (among others)

I use a variety of methods, from learning style theory, dyslexia study skills, reading theory, mindfulness and actor training methods. I also run Dyslexia & Acting group sessions at the Actors Centre.

United States: Model United Nations (MUN)

"This is not F.D.R.’s Model United Nations, that rigid simulation of General Assembly protocol and decorum. Conferences like this one in Philadelphia, hosted by the club at Penn, have turned MUN, as it’s called, into a full-fledged sport, with all the competitiveness and rowdiness that suggests. Today, there are official sponsors, a ranking of schools and, much to the chagrin of traditionalists, non-U.N. role play."

Model United Nations

Model United Nations, also known as Model UN or MUN, is an educational simulation and/or academic competition in which students can learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations. 

MUNISH 2015- Fashion in Words

MUNISH 2015- Welcome to The Hague

MUNISH in Numbers - 2015 Closing Ceremony Video

(SETRA) Strengthening Education Through Research Act

by Christel Lane Swasey

"Education Liberty Watch notes that PPRA (a federal law that is supposed to prohibit collection of psychological, sexual, or religious mindsets) only applies to student surveys– not to curriculum!  It’s a loophole.  Check out Cornell law school’s information on PPRA.

So what SETRA aims to do, in gathering sensitive “social and emotional” data, it can do, because of that loophold.  SETRA’s aims are not prohibited.  The data miners simply have to hide their psychological stalking inside the curriculum.  And this is easier and more common than most of us realize.

Psychological or belief data can be mined without openly labeling the effort a psychological, religious, or emotional survey– and even without the knowledge of teachers or school administrators. 

For example:
Education Liberty Watch points out that an English Language Arts curriculum that is being used in over 40 Florida school districts and several California districts, a curriculum published by the College Board, called SpringBoard, contains many psychosocial, or belief-based, questions such as this:
Activity 4.9 Justice and Moral Reasoning
I should pay all my taxes because-
  • I could go to jail if I do not
  • people will think of me as a good citizen
  • my taxes along with those of others will help to pay for services used by all
Students are then made to rate themselves, based on having mostly “a” or “b” or “c” responses, as “pre-conventional,” “conventional” or “post-conventional” based on psychological, moral levels and stages of reasoning. This is a psychological test, yet parents are not given notice nor asked for their consent.

Even math tests can contain psychological tests.  They gather information about student “perseverance,” “grit,” and other nonacademic “competencies”.  In fact, perseverance is one of the nonacademic standards tracked by Common Core math.

It’s not a bad idea to teach math students to persevere.  It is immoral, though, to pretend that a math test is testing only math, when it is also testing the psychological attribute of perseverance or another nonacademic attribute or belief– without the informed consent of a parent.

And if politicians and corporate giants get their way, it won’t be possible for a student or parent to avoid this type of psychological data mining by opting out of the high stakes tests, because stealth testing is here to take high-stakes testings place.

Did you notice how the parent-and-teacher-generated, national opt-out-of-testing movement has been hijacked by top level politicians  siphoning the grassroots’ energy toward the newest ed reform: “integration of testing into an aligned curriculum,” or “embedded testing” to replace the big-assessment tradition?  This is also known as “stealth assessment."

SETRA: AN ACT To strengthen the Federal education research system to make research and evaluations more timely and relevant to State and local needs in order to increase student achievement.


.—The mission of the comprehensive centers is to provide State educational agencies and local educational agencies technical assistance, analysis, and training to build their capacity in implementing the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.) and other Federal education laws, and research-based practices."

"(3) NON-FEDERAL SUPPORT In conducting petition for grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements under subsection (a), the Secretary shall give priority to eligible applicants that will provide a portion of non-Federal funds to maximize support for activities of the comprehensive centers to be established under this section.’’

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366)

"SETRA is the data mining assistant of ESSA."

"It’s true that each state already has a federally designed, federally funded, federally interoperable database called a State Longitudinal Database System, but thus far, the SLDS are, at least theoretically, limited to collecting academic data. The SETRA bill spells out that the government will authorize psychological, belief based data (aka social, emotional data).  We don’t want this to be national law."


Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The New ESEA and its Impact on Students with Disabilities

There are substantial changes in the ESSA which create new flexibility in accountability and eliminate federally-mandated interventions and turn around strategies. Gone are the highly qualified teacher requirements, replaced by a requirement that teachers are certified by states. The ESSA does maintain the basic architecture of standards-based reform and annual assessment requirements for states; however, the Secretary may not regulate or intervene with state standards. The law does require states to set challenging academic standards that must:

       Apply to all public schools and all public school children.
       Align with higher education institution entrance requirements without the need for remediation.
       Align with the relevant state career and technical education standards.
       Adopt language proficiency standards for English learners.
       Allow for alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, aligned to challenging state standards.
Click here for full article and details on assessments, State accountability, State Plan requirements regarding seclusion and restraint, Diploma Options, and Family Engagement.

Sage Francis - "The Best Of Times"

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Two years later under the Revised Corrective Action Plan (RC-CAP) 2014-15.....

Sent: Saturday, September 26, 2015 9:53 AM
To: Campbell, Patricia A; Archer, Kelley A; Jessee, Wyeth
Cc: Clancy, Michaela; Schiers, Andrea L; Hanson, Kari
Subject: RE: SDI- Sup services

(I've included Andrea on this communication because I want my statements below to be
protected by client privilege. If I did not do this correctly, or did not follow protocol let me
know....I do not mean to overstep.. but I'm desperate for guidance.)
As per the offer in the email below, a conversation would be greatly appreciated:) Can we
schedule it for Monday or Tuesday of this week, the days I'm at Stevens?
I don't mean to be a "Debbie Downer" but it is extremely difficult to work with families
and staff when the ground keeps moving.
Reflecting on our situation at Stevens, I'm coming to believe that at the core of the issue
of SDI and services is really not all about differentiating between SDI and
accommodations/differentiation in the classroom, but the poor/low level of quality of
services provided by SPED staff. They are good people, with good intentions, but they do
not have the skills, or understandings that allow them to provide quality services at this
time, with the potential exception of the SM1 teacher.
Given Stevens' history of services, ACCESS families and some families in the intermediate
SM3 do not seem to want services, except in the form of another adult in the GE room.
They do not want their students pulled out for services, nor do they want them to look
"different" in the classroom because they receive help. From my perspective, it is our job,
at Stevens, to completely change/ramp up the quality and rigor of the services our staff
provide so that parents can more clearly see the difference between some
accommodations and help in GE and the power of truly provided SDI.
For example, when meeting with parents associated with the primary SM3 program, they
appreciate/respect/understand the services and supports that XXX, the teacher provides.
They want more SDI services for their students. (In her case, we need to give her the
basic skills for teaching reading, writing, math, and social skills -- and are putting a plan in
place, with the understanding that Andrea will be coming to work with her and the SM3
intermediate teacher around social/behavior instruction/intervention. We can handle the
core subjects.)
This is not true for the SM3 intermediate program. Given what is going on in the
program, I too would want my child in GE without too much interference from the SPED
group. This is one of the huge challenges we face and both XXXXX and I recognize it and
are developing a plan to change it. We are holding weekly SPED meetings, a quick
Monday morning meeting check-in with all SPED staff, and are bringing in subs so that I
can meet/train the SM3 teachers on Monday on basic curriculum/teaching in reading,
writing, and math.
So, in part, our situation does not have so much to do with the difference between SDI
and accommodations, but maybe more to do with the quality and types of services our
staff are able to provide at this time. If the services were great/strong/organized/and
impacting student learning/growth, we probably would not be having these
misunderstandings with a few families. We also would probably not have IEPs in their
current state.
However, for me to proceed as a steward of the district and as one who strives for
compliance and meeting of the spirit of the law, I need a clear definition of SDI. I do not
want to feel foolish in front of parents, keeping a clear line/threshold on what is expected
for services, only to be "over-ruled" when a parent pushes back or becomes upset. SDI is
SDI and always has been. Yes, we must be creative and flexible, but we also must ensure
our practices are compliant.
From my understanding of the law, the threshold for SDI is the same for all students with
IEPs, regardless of program. SDI is something that someone (GE teacher, IA, etc), under
the guidance of the SPED case manager, provides to support the student's achievement of
IEP goals. It is strategic, intentional, and builds student skills over time. True SDI can be
tracked through data collection because it is strategic, not "incidental" or "teaching in the
moment". I do not believe the definition or intent/spirit of SDI has changed, with IDEA
2004 still in effect, but maybe I'm wrong about that.
This issue of defining SDI brings me back in time, to a time when we, as a district, got in
trouble with OSPI when we pulled aside groups of students with IEPs and without IEPs to
deliver SDI for the student with the IEP. If the group membership was flexible and
changed weekly or daily, we were told by OSPI that it was okay.. but still a little shaky, if
the work was designed specifically with the IEP student and his/her goals in mind. If the
same group of students without IEPs attend the group over time, then either the IEP
student was not receiving SDI, or the non-IEP students were receiving SPED education
services without due process. In this context, pulling a group of students aside to
preteach and reteach would be considered an accommodation within general ed. that is
available to all students -- and did not meet the threshold for SDI. In ACCESS, pulling a
group of students who need more individual assistance, including one student with an
IEP, is not SDI, nor does it constitute SDI for that student. It is an accommodation that
the IEP student can access because he/she is a kid in that general education classroom,
accessing a support that is available to any student in the class who needs additional help.
In our current situation, we have a family wanting to count every time the GE teacher
interacts with the student with an IEP SDI. That most certainly is not SDI, but rather
good teaching and accommodating on the part of the teacher, providing support to the
student who is a member of her classroom.
If we water SDI down to the point that it is "invisible" to the student, his/her peers and
teachers are proceeding with practices that they use to support all students in the
classroom, then we have nothing left that is specially designed, and the whole reason for
having dollars and SPED services become mute.
I've attached an oldie-but-goodie that, for the most part, I believe still clarifies the
meaning of SDI. Because, at the time this procedural manual was written we had IEPs
with a total of 10 minutes of SDI for a student -- yes, 10 minutes was the total service -
we did set a minimal number of minutes. So that statement may seem strange.. but
overall, is this information relevant and accurate?
As for supplementary aids and services, my general understanding that these are services
provided to adults to support students -- such as consultation, professional development
and alike.
However, IEP Online does allow the recording of additional IA support in the classroom
under supplementary aids and services, making these additional minutes of services visible
on the IEP service matrix. At Stevens, we have students receiving a high number of
minutes of SDI by the IA in general education. We are gradually converting those
minutes to what they are -- the IA in the classroom to provide accommodations and some
quick redirects to keep students on task. They are not teaching the student -- but are
there to help support students in doing the right thing and practicing what they are
learning through SDI provided by the teacher.
Please let me know ASAP how to proceed and please provide me written guidance that I
can share with staff and families. I've checked the procedural manual, but it does not
include specific information about this key issues.
A number of other building administrators have come to me with questions and
"frustration" comments about a lack of clarity in this, and other areas. People are doing
the best they can, but as was shown in the schools participating in the OSPI visit first,
almost all IEPs are non complaint. Although some of the changes/amendments are minor,
overall, staff, and especially administrators are not prepared for doing the work with
fidelity. The training did help.. but people walked away with many different
interpretations of what to do and how to do it. Some left with more questions that they
entered with -- which could be a good thing because that indicates that they were actually
listening:) -- but also indicates the extent to which more work needs to be done.
Having been in your shoes, I completely understand the context in which you're doing the
work and appreciate all the hours invested in turning the ship around. I'm on your team.
I'm not complaining. I'm just asking for clarification ASAP so that as XXXX and I work to
turn our ship around, we have solid ground from which to work.
Thanks for reading all of this and I look forward to feedback. I'd rather not put this type
of stuff on email -- that is why I included Andrea -- but I need information now...XXXXX has
been amazing and as we talk, she too has many questions about these issues.
Thanks for understanding and your partnership in this effort.


Comprehensive Corrective Action Plan (C - CAP) 2013

"In conclusion, every system is perfectly designed to achieve the results it is getting. The Seattle Public Schools has been getting poor results from special education services and is in need of urgent, substantial and significant improvement in the structure and delivery of services to students with disabilities and their families."

Monday, January 4, 2016


"The issue of waiver arises most commonly when a communication is witnessed by a third party or where the client does not intend the communication to be confidential. The mere presence of a third party will likely prevent the creation of the attorney-client privilege.
Continuing with our hypothetical characters, suppose that Smith and her stockbroker meet with Jones to discuss the suspect sale of stock. Jones represents Smith in connection with the sale, but not the stockbroker. During the course of the meeting, Smith discloses sensitive information. Under this scenario, the privilege is likely waived and the information conveyed does not enjoy protection from disclosure.
What if the communication is disclosed to a third party after a privileged exchange between attorney and client? Has the privilege been waived? Possibly. Unlike a client's constitutional rights, which can only be intentionally and knowingly waived, the attorney-client privilege may be waived by a careless, unintentional or inadvertent disclosure.27